After a number of close losses during the regular season, Archbishop Spalding’s boys basketball team hopes the postseason brings it better luck.

The No. 9 Cavaliers got off to a pretty good start Tuesday evening. Spalding used a big surge in the third quarter to take control and rolled to a 76-58 victory over John Carroll in a MIAA A Conference quarterfinal contest in Bel Air.

Sophomore forward Malik Washington led the way for Spalding (15-16 overall) with 24 points, while RJ Newton chipped in 18.

“Very important win for us,” Newton, a junior forward, said. “It has been [close] games for our past two games. We won one, they won one. We felt like we were better this whole time. We got to prove that tonight.”

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Spalding lost, 68-65, on the Patriots’ home court Jan. 11. Days later, the Cavaliers edged John Carroll, 70-68, in a match played at the University of Maryland.

After the Patriots gained a 32-31 to start the second half Tuesday, Spalding took over to gain a semifinal matchup with No. 1 Mount St. Joseph Thursday evening.

Cavaliers freshman guard Elijah Barrett kickstarted an 11-0 run with a layup at the 7-minute mark. Sophomore forward Malik Washington followed with a jumper in the lane and then cashed in a rebound for a 3-point play on the ensuing possession.

“Just the ebbs and flows of the game,” Washington said. “They went on their run going into half. It’s about staying composed. We took their best punch, and we kept rallying.”

A minute later, Spaulding freshman Terrence Moultrie hit a 3-pointer and forced a timeout by the Patriots with the Cavaliers up, 42-32. John Carroll guard Jeannot Basima helped keep the game close with 6 points down the third quarter stretch as the Patriots trailed, 50-44, entering the fourth.

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The Cavaliers scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 15. Newton punctuated the run to start the fourth quarter with an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Barrett.

“I am just really proud of the kids,” said Spalding coach Josh Pratt, whose team loss eight games decided by seven points or fewer during the regular season. “Both John Carroll games came down to the last possession. There have been 11 games this season where we have either won or lost on a last second [play]. We have been in so many games like this. The only thing I preached to the kids was ‘We just gotta finish.’”

Basima, who’s committed to Yale, led the way for John Carroll (14-17) with 17 points, and freshman Aiden Able added 13.

The Patriots’ focus shifts to next weekend’s Baltimore Catholic League Tournament at Goucher College. John Carroll will play fifth-ranked Mount Carmel in the quarterfinals.

“Tough one tonight,” John Carroll coach Seth Goldberg said. “We just couldn’t put it together. Hats off to Spalding. We still have the Baltimore Catholic league [to play for]. We are going to regroup, take a couple of days away and get ready to go. I’m excited to get to coach these kids for another week.”

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Next for Spalding is trip to top-ranked and defending MIAA A champ Mount St. Joseph, which handled No. 10 Loyola, 83-59, in a quarterfinal Tuesday evening. The Gaels, ranked nationally by MaxPreps (16th)

and ESPN (No. 23), defeated the Cavaliers, 82-54, and 81-49, during the regular season

“We are one game away from our goal of trying to play for a championship,” Pratt said. “We understand how good Mount St. Joe’s is but I feel like we are playing better [than earlier this year]. We just have to go out and play every possession like it’s our last. We’ve got to really hustle. Rebounds, free throws and turnovers – we have to win two of those three battles.”

MIAA A CONFERENCE QUARTERFINAL

NO. 9 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 76, JOHN CARROLL 58

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Spalding - Malik Washington 24, RJ Newton 18, TJ Moultrie 9, Trey Yawn 7, Elijah Barrett 7, John Farley 6, Carter Hoyle 3, Kam Carter 2. Totals 32 6-9 76.

John Carroll - Jeannot Basima 17, Aidan Able 13, Miles Smith 9, Theartis Battle 9, Anthony Council 3, Rex Romain 3, Caden Chinnia 2, Noah Miller 2. Totals 23 4-6 58.

Spalding 17 14 19 26 - 76

John Carroll 14 16 14 14 - 58

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